Joseph Mallord William Turner

Three Seascapes


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 908 × 603 mm
frame: 1010 × 701 × 55 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

One of a group of cursory marine sketches datable to the late 1820s, and perhaps painted while at East Cowes, or in the studio, from recollections of Turner's stay there. Although unlikely to have been painted outdoors, from nature, this canvas is included to show how Turner used his rolls of canvas, and how the Cowes sketches would have looked before they were separated. The canvas bears three sketches of sea and sky, one of which was painted upside down so that one sky serves for two subjects if the canvas is turned. It is exhibited with two seascapes the right way up.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

271. [N05491] Three Seascapes c. 1827


Canvas, 35 3/4 × 23 3/4 (91 × 60·5)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (146, one of ‘2 (one of these contains 2 subjects)’ 3'0" × 2'0"; identified 1946, ? by chalk number on back); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1947.

Exh. R.A. 1974–5 (320).

Lit. Davies 1946, pp. 159–60, 188.

Repr. Art International XIX/2, February 1975, p. 13 in colour.

This canvas is not precisely datable but is fairly close to the Study of Sea and Sky of 1827 (No. 268 [N02001]). It serves to give some idea of how the two rolls of canvas used at Cowes must have looked before they were cut up. Here, however, Turner painted three seascapes, one of them to be seen with the canvas upside down so that two of the compositions share a single sky, and the smaller size of the canvas would have made it much more manageable.

There are considerable losses, now restored, at the bottom of the picture (as seen with two seascapes the right way up).

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984


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